Chamber Cartel: Simulcast with Guest Artist Margot Rood

This evening was the fourth of seven shows in a series by Chamber Cartel called “Don’t Look Back: Beyond the Zero” that Orpheus Brewing Company has been presenting at their brewery off of Monroe Drive near Piedmont Park. The program opened with a solo percussion piece by Anthony Donofrio entitled “Meditation on Italo Calvino’s Castle of Crossed Destinies”. It was contemplative and lovely and Caleb Herron brought a sweetness out of it that made it a wonderful way to start the show.

The remainder of the program featured works for soprano and percussion. Griffin Candey’s “Amplification” was almost interesting to me: I don’t know what it was that didn’t quite mesh but Rood’s voice and Herron’s percussion seemed to be coming from different places. Neither performer was bad nor did they seem to not be playing their respective parts, so to speak, but they just didn’t form something together that seemed whole to me. The piece was originally composed for unaccompanied soprano and mezzo-soprano, so perhaps something was lost in the adapted orchestration.

I enjoyed Donofrio’s second work on the program, “Canto II”, quite a bit more. Rood’s sweet voice suited the piece, though her diction was a bit too rooted American English for her performance to completely suit my tastes. That flaw was not enough to make the work anything but engaging and enjoyable, though.

During intermission, as with the last performance at Orpheus, I went outside onto the deck overlooking the Piedmont Commons portion of Piedmont Park. The last time that I was there, fireflies and bats were putting on a show. This time there were a couple of bats but no fireflies. A sunset, however, painted the sky some lovely colors to make up for it.

Back inside, the concert continued with Heather Gilligan’s “Finer Points,” a setting of three poems by Lisa DeSiro. As with “Living in Light,” I found it to be a bit too influenced by the folk music of the various British Isles for my tastes. I thought that the writing for percussion was a bit more coherent over the three movements than that for the cello in “Living in Light” and, overall, I enjoyed this piece more than that other. I bought the album of Rood’s performance of Gilligan’s work that was on sale to be supportive and perhaps I’ll find more to like about her work after a few listens, though I suspect that I’ll still not quite like it.

The evening concluded with Tan Dun’s “Silk Road.” Rood’s sweet, clear voice was good for this work, though I think that her performance could have been better if she had approached it more like Chinese Opera than western art song. There were also a few bits where her voice was strong but where I felt that she should have been singing more mit gevalt, as though she were slapping us with her voice. Still, criticisms aside, Rood and Herron did a good job of brining Tan’s work to our ears and it was an excellent way to end a solid show.

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